Roman Family Life
Posted on 27th December 2020
In Ancient Rome the father or oldest living male (paterfamilias) was head of the household and had complete power over the family, even including their slaves. Women/wives were under the complete control of their husbands, having no rights themselves.
The home was the woman’s domain, she was responsible for bearing children and managing the household. A woman may bear many children, but there was a high child mortality rate in ancient Rome and many children died within the first year, more still did not make it to adulthood.
Girls were classed as children until the age of twelve and were taught household duties by their mother. Boys were classed as children until the age of fourteen and they would accompany their fathers to work, hopefully to learn a trade or position.
Girls were married as young as twelve or fourteen years old, often, to much older men. These marriages were arranged by the father, not for love, but often to advance a father’s political career, social status or wealth.
Marriages were simple or elaborate affairs depending on the wealth and status of the family. The daughter moved from her father’s house to her husband’s house, becoming ‘mother of the household (materfamilias) and being part of her husband’s family and his control.
Marriage in Rome did not have to be sanctioned by the state, it was purely an agreement between two families. It was also easy to get divorced in Rome, as again if a husband or wife wished to divorce, they just agreed this and the marriage was over.
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Rome
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